Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?
Research Shows Students Benefit When Teachers Share Their Race or Gender. Yet Most Teachers are White Women

September 20, 2018
By Claire Cain Miller

As students have returned to school, they have been greeted by teachers who, more likely than not, are white women. That means many students will be continuing to see teachers who are a different gender than they are, and a different skin color.

Does it matter? Yes, according to a significant body of research: Students tend to benefit from having teachers who look like them, especially nonwhite students...

read more

SBE Adopts State’s First-Ever Computer Science Standards for Schools

September 20, 2018

On September 6, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved California’s first-ever computer science standards - learning expectations that will help each student reach their creative potential in our digitally connected world.

“As a forward-leaning state and home to Silicon Valley, California’s new standards will not only enable students to understand how their digital world works but will encourage critical thinking and discussion about the broader ethical and social implications and questions related to the growing capabilities of technology,” said State Board member Trish Williams, who serves as the Board’s computer science liaison...

read more

Greeting Each Student at the Door Benefits Students, Teacher

September 20, 2018
By Youki Terada

A widely cited 2007 study claimed that teachers greeting students at the classroom door led to a 27 percentage point increase in academic engagement. The problem? It included just three students.

Now a new, much larger and more credible study - comprising 203 students in 10 classrooms - validates that claim: Greeting students at the door sets a positive tone and can increase engagement and reduce disruptive behavior. Spending a few moments welcoming students promotes a sense of belonging, giving them social and emotional support that helps them feel invested in their learning...

read more

Almost 10,000 Schools Report 30% of Students are Chronically Absent

September 6, 2018

There are almost 10,000 public schools across the United States - or 11 percent of the total - at which chronic student absence rates affect 30 percent or more of their students, a new analysis shows.

The problem is almost as challenging at another 10,000 schools where 20-to-29 percent of the students are chronically absent. At such high levels, all students in the classroom are affected when teachers have to deal with the churn of sporadic attendance...

read more

September is Attendance Awareness Month
CDE Urges Schools, Families to Combat Chronic Absenteeism

September 6, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in recognition of September as Attendance Awareness Month, said school districts, public agencies, community groups, students, and their families must work together to combat chronic absenteeism.

“Students aren’t learning if they are not in class. Cohesive partnerships, intervention strategies, and solid support services create attendance teams that are armed with the necessary tools to identify and help students struggling with attendance problems,” said Torlakson. “By combining resources and working together, school attendance administrators, parents, and community organizations can build systems to reduce chronic absenteeism rates that are positive and effective, not negative and punitive.”...

read more

Latest Healthy Kids Survey Reports Decline in Teenage Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs

August 22, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on August 20 that alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use continues to decline among middle and high school students, and improvements have occurred in indicators of pupil engagement, school climate, and mental health among high school students, according to the 2015-17 Biennial State California Healthy Kids Survey.

The survey assesses how well schools are meeting students’ needs for school safety, drug and alcohol prevention, mental health, and other factors that influence learning and positive development...

read more

California High School Graduation Rates Dip 1.1 Percent Under New Methodology

August 7, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced California’s high school graduation rates on July 26 under a new methodology that was adopted in response to a federal audit.

As part of this new methodology, three significant changes were implemented for calculating 2017 high school graduation rates: (1) Students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (2) students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (3) students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation...

read more

Using Person-First Language at School Focuses on Who Students Are as Individuals

August 7, 2018
By Michelle Foley, Cristina Santamaria Graff

As educators strive to be inclusive of all children, one way to begin is to actively use person-first language, a form of linguistic etiquette in which we describe a trait or diagnosis as something a person has rather than as who they are-e.g., “a person with diabetes,” not “a diabetic.” This is a way to honor and welcome students with different abilities. Indeed, how we discuss and describe our students profoundly impacts their sense of inclusion in the classroom.

To begin using person-first language, we should initially try to understand its purpose and meaning. At its core, person-first language seeks to acknowledge the inherent and equal value of every individual, before attaching any other descriptors or identities the person may view as secondary or not intrinsic. Communicating using person-first language begins with empathy...

read more

The Perilous Future of Internet Access for Students of Color

July 17, 2018
By Amir Nasr

As teachers increasingly integrate internet-based programs into both lesson plans and homework, the internet has become an essential tool for students. With such vast amounts of information available online - articles, videos, other imaginative mediums - children are able to do homework and develop interests not only with the help of, but also because of an internet connection.

But while that tool can - and does - bring so much opportunity to students whose families can afford it, millions of American families are unable to buy internet at home. Studies, including one by the Department of Education in April, show that black and Hispanic Americans make up a much larger percentage of people without internet than white Americans. And yet, instead of working to bridge this divide, the nation’s top telecommunications regulator - the Federal Communications Commission - has recently threatened to gut Lifeline, the only program in existence that addresses the affordability of communications services...

read more

When Teachers Think Differently About Themselves as Math Learners, Students Benefit

July 17, 2018
By Krysten Crawford

Like a lot of students, many elementary school teachers dread math class. But, according to a new study from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education, when teachers reexamine how they were taught math and their perceptions of their ability, student test scores and attitudes about math dramatically improve.

The research, published in July in the peer-reviewed journal Education Sciences, found that fifth-grade teachers who took an online class designed to give them a different approach to mathematics teaching and learning achieved significantly higher test results for their students compared with a control group of teachers in the same schools who did not take the class...

read more

Stanford Study Examines Where Boys, Girls Do Better in Math, English

June 29, 2018
By Krysten Crawford

A review of test scores from 10,000 school districts finds that gender gaps in math and English vary with community wealth and racial diversity.

When Stanford Professor Sean Reardon and his research team set out to take an unprecedented look at how elementary school girls and boys compare in academic achievement, they expected to find similar stereotype-driven patterns across all 10,000 U.S. school districts: boys consistently outperforming girls in math and girls steadily surpassing boys in reading and writing by a wide margin...

read more

Bringing a Therapy Dog to Elementary School

June 14, 2018
By Shari Feeny

When you walk down a hall in my school, you may encounter our therapy dog, Boomer. There were originally reservations in our district about having a therapy dog, but now Boomer is one of the most sought after staff members for his ability to enhance many components of social and emotional learning (SEL).

I’m in my 25th year in education, and I believe in the necessity of teaching social and emotional skills - they really do help students thrive academically.

I’ve seen Boomer stop a child’s tears in record time, help a school-phobic kindergartner walk into school with enthusiasm, reset an anxious student’s day, ease test-taking tension, and bring smiles and laughter to everyone he encounters...

read more

Recognizing and Alleviating Math Anxiety Among Elementary Students

June 14, 2018
By Gina Picha

Math anxiety is much more than a dislike for the subject - it’s a real problem for students, one that blocks the brain’s working memory and starts a self-perpetuating cycle of math avoidance, low achievement, and fear. This form of anxiety manifests as early as kindergarten, and nearly half of elementary school children experience it.

Signs and Symptoms

Avoidance: Math anxiety and math avoidance go hand in hand. Do you have students who seem to grasp at any reason to leave the classroom during math instruction? This could be more than just a student trying to get out of work. Students with high levels of math anxiety tend to avoid mathematics at all costs...

read more